The more that Donnetta Walker read of the latest installment of Sports Illustrated's investigation of Oklahoma State football, the angrier she became.
Released late Friday morning, the story claimed that young women involved in the Orange Pride program had sex with recruits in an attempt to lure them to OSU. All of the hostesses were not implicated. None of those alleged to have used sex as a recruiting tool were even mentioned by name.
But the suggestion was unmistakable — the group is suspect and so are the women involved.
“It makes me mad,” Walker said of the story. “I do know a lot of those girls that are in it currently.”
She knows two particularly well.
Her twin daughters.
Caitlin and Cassidhe Walker, now seniors at OSU, were born in Oklahoma, but the Walkers moved to Texas when they were toddlers. When it came time to pick a college, the girls visited OSU and were sold. Loved the campus. Loved the town.
“Felt like it was home,” their mom said.
Early in their freshmen years — the first semester, really — they decided that they wanted to join Orange Pride. One of their sorority sisters was in the group and encouraged them to apply that spring.
They didn't need much encouragement. Their dad, Dugan, has been a high-school football coach for three decades, so they'd been around football all their lives. The chance to stay around the sport was a big draw.
Caitlin and Cassidhe told their parents that they were going to apply, and once Donnetta and Dugan looked over rules and regulations for the group, they were completely on board.
Nothing that's happened the past three years has changed that.
“They absolutely love it or they wouldn't have done it,” Donnetta said. “They talk about it all the time.”
They've told their parents about working in the football office during the week, about coming to adore recruiting secretary Sharla Curtis and about meeting with recruits on game days.
“Orange Pride for our kids has been a totally positive experience,” Dugan said.
That made it difficult Friday to read what Sports Illustrated wrote. Even though no specific past or current members of Orange Pride were accused of wrongdoing by name, the morals of every woman who's ever been part of that organization were called into question by association.
That includes the Walker girls.
Imagine being in Donnetta and Dugan Walker's shoes. Those are your daughters. Those are your babies.
“If I'd have though that's what they were being exposed to and that what was being expected,” Dugan said, “then no, they wouldn't be a part of that organization.”
“They might not even be at that school.”
But the Walkers have no doubts about what's going on with Orange Pride. They have no doubts because they know their girls wouldn't continue to stay involved in something that was seedy or demeaning or shameful.
That's not how they raised them.
They believe in Orange Pride because they believe in their daughters.
“With what happened (Friday), I feel like I need to stand up for them because they do a lot of good things,” Donnetta said of the women in Orange Pride. “That program does a lot of good things for the university. I think it's a great organization.”
Donnetta talked as she and Dugan drove north on Interstate 35 on Friday afternoon. They were headed from their home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to Stillwater for Parents Weekend. They planned long ago to make the trip, but after what happened earlier in the day, they couldn't wait to see the girls.
Big, long hugs would be mandatory.
“I'll tell 'em that I love 'em and to hold their heads up high and be proud of what they do and what they're doing for that school and that organization,” Dugan said.
“If you're doing a good thing, then you don't have anything to hang your head about.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.